History of Automations

“A study of the history of automata clearly revelas that several of the basic inventions produced for these attempts to imitate life by mechanical means led to significant developments culminating in modern automation and cybernetics.” (Bedini 1964:41) Automaton is a self moving machine simulates the actions of a living being.

“I suppose the body to be just a statue or a machine made of earth… We see clocks, artificial fountains, mills, and other similar machines which, even though they are only made by men, have the power to move of their own accord in various ways.” (Descartes (1662) 1998:99)

  • Da Vinci’s Knight
  • The Draughtsman
  • The Musician
  • The Flute Player
  • The Digesting Duck (Jacques de Vaucanson, 1738)

The food is digested as in real animals…; the matter digested in the stomach is led off by pipes to the anus, where there is a sphincter allowing it to pass out. The inventor does not set this up as a perfect digestive system capable of manufacturing blood…to support the animal…(but) only to imitate the mechanics of the digestive process in three things, firstly, the swallowing of the food, secondly the maceration, cooking or dissolving of it, and thirdly the action causing it to leave the body in a markedly changed form. (Diderot, cited in Chapuis and Droz 1958:241)

  • The Silver Swan

  • The Mechanical Monk

  • The Turk
  • Hellbrunn mechanical theatre (1750)

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